Outdoor Cary: Paddling Lake Crabtree

Cary, NC — The dreaded NC humidity took the day off last Tuesday, so I jumped at the chance to hit the water. Searching around, I found a great spot that’s easily accessible and doesn’t require a boat launch fee—Lake Crabtree.

Getting Unplugged

Only human, wind and electric-powered watercraft are allowed on Lake Crabtree.

Lake Crabtree is a no-motor zone as it has shallow waters less than three feet deep in various areas. This, for paddlers, is a great thing. It means paddling freely across the lake without fear of being ran over or dealing with constant boat waves.

Most rental facilities, like the one on Lake Crabtree, are closed during the pandemic for safety and sanitation reasons.

Having your own kayak, canoe or paddle board (or a friend with one) can be a great way to get outdoors and unplug for a while. Moving here earlier this year from the NC mountains, this was my first time kayaking in the Triangle. It was a bit of an adjustment to see buildings above the treetops and hear the noise from I-40, but it really wasn’t all that different.

Enjoying the Stillness

In a shallow section of the lake, I found a few birds including a snowy white great egret, some sort of hawk in its nest and this great blue heron.

After being on the water about 30 minutes, I found my way over to the bridge connecting Crabtree Creek Greenway over the lake. No matter how young or old a person it, it’s just fun to cross under or over bridges. Well, that’s the case for me anyway.

Crossing underneath, I saw there was a very shallow section of water with grassy marsh-looking areas. As I paddled, I noticed I was in good company with birds all around, likely looking for their dinner on the water’s surface.

Considering my change of scenery lately can be summed up as either my kitchen, living room or the guest room, it was wonderful to see the nature that’s just a short drive away.

Making Memories

For this adventure, I brought along my fiancé, Brittany and our pup, Sadie.

I am at my best when I get outside more often and turns out there’s a science to it. Being outdoors has been linked to higher energy, a boosted immune system, restored focus, enhanced creativity and can even help with anxiety. Not to mention, its a good work out for the back and upper body.

Besides the science, it’s a great way to have fun and make the best of a time filled with trials for many. When I look back on the days of this pandemic, I don’t want to remember it as a time I sat back and did nothing. I want to stay safe, but I also am an adventure-driven person, so naturally, kayaking came to mind.

It’s just about as socially distant a person could get from people outside of their household while getting in some exercise and putting self-care into practice.

Story and photos by Ashley Kairis.

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2 replies
  1. Tad
    Tad says:

    Lake Crabtree is a great place to kayak – Spring and Fall – Summers early in the morning and the evening.

    Mosquitioes generally are not too bad.


  2. Scott Korbin
    Scott Korbin says:

    What a wonderful article. Thank you for sharing. I had forgotten about this Cary Treasurer since spending so much time with my wife and daughter there in the early 90s. So much to do in our own backyard. I love it here!!!

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